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Research: Bigger beer menus are better

Research: Bigger beer menus are better

A new survey provides evidence that restaurants will sell more beer if they offer a wider selection of brands.

Now we know why restaurants seem to be in a virtual arms race to offer more brands of beer in bottles and on tap than their competitors. The more choices you give your customers, the more beer they will buy. And you don’t have to operate a gastropub or sports bar to get in on the action.

That’s the key finding in a recent survey of beer-drinking restaurant customers conducted by Alcoholic Beverage Demand Tracker, a syndicated study run by market research firm Consumer Edge Insights to keep track of factors that affect alcoholic beverage demand.

This edition of the company’s ongoing study targeted respondents who drink alcohol and are restaurant customers. Some 33 percent of survey respondents said they were more likely to order beer when a restaurant offered a large selection. Twenty-six percent of respondents said that a large selection of beers made them more likely to order an additional serving of beer.

Survey respondents noted a couple of reasons why a large beer selection matters to them. Thirty-six percent said they like to sample a brand of beer they haven’t tried before, and 19 percent said they like to revisit a brand of beer they’ve tried before, but haven’t drunk in a long time.

The key finding for restaurant operators considering expansion of their beer programs might be this: Only 28 percent of survey respondents said that the ability to choose from a large beer selection in a restaurant setting has no effect on the amount of beer they drink or the brand of beer they choose. If you’re looking for ways to boost demand for alcoholic beverages in your operation, beer list revitalization could be a good place to start.

The big beer list effect is even more pronounced among craft beer aficionados. Forty-four percent of survey responders who identified themselves as craft beer drinkers said that a large selection of brands make them more likely to order beer, with 34 percent of them saying that enhanced availability makes them more likely to order additional servings.

This study was conducted online and drew 2,500 respondents. Factor in overwhelming anecdotal evidence of how successful mega-beer programs have become in restaurants, not just bars, and we’d have to agree with Consumer Edge Insights’ findings on this one. Given the generous markups on beer, if you’re thinking about expanding your restaurant’s beer program, we have two pieces of advice. Go big. Go now.

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